The following information will assist you in keeping your carpets looking like new and will extend your investment:

1. Vacuum your carpet frequently as particulate soils are what causes a carpet to wear out. There are glass particles, sand, grease, and much more brought into a home where all play a role in carpet wear. Vacuuming frequently (move your vacuum slowly over a small area at a time).

2. Have your carpets professionally cleaned at least once per year and even more often if you have children and pets making contact with the carpets frequently. A professional, such as myself, can get spots and stains out that most homeowners cannot. We have the tools to get the job done right. Professional cleaning with “steam” extraction provides a “deeper” cleaning than most methods. All my customers notice the difference immediately.

Testimony: “You made my carpets look better than when I first moved into the apartment. Thank you for doing such a good job”. (Nancy Buffet, Concord, NH)

3. When you spill something on the carpet such as a cup of coffee, tea, soda, etc. take a cotton towel (a bath towel does an excellent job) and fold it up placing it over the spill. Step on it and continue to move your weight over the towel until most of the liquid is absorbed into the carpet. Then put another towel down over the spilled area and weight it down with books, bricks, or whatever you can find in the house or garage. Leave it there for a few hours. Pull the towel up and most all the remaining liquid will be into the towel and not in the carpet. Finally, use a carpet-spotting agent such as (Spot Out—purchased in Wal-Mart or elsewhere), Spray the spotter on to the area and let sit for a minute. Then wipe over the area with a scrubbing motion. This will remove any remaining stain.

4. Watch out in particular for colored stains from Kool Aid, Wine, and colored soda’s such as raspberry, orange, etc., grape juice, as these can permanently stain your carpet. In some cases, your professional carpet cleaner can get them out using a “heat-transfer” method, but it doesn’t always work. Do not let these spills remain in your carpet for a long period of time. Use the method in # 3 listed above to get the spill or stain out. Here is a trick you can use on rasberry colored stains: Take a quarter cut of a fresh lemon and add salt to it. Rub it over the stain and it should come out.

5. What if you spill ink on your carpet or upholstery? Try using hair spray! Before you apply anything to an ink stain, wet the surrounding area of the stain with water or a mixture of water and ammonia. This will prevent the ink from spreading and migrating out farther. Spray the hair spray over the ink and begin to blot. Keep doing this until all most all the ink is out of the carpet. You may want to apply bar soap to the stain first, then spray the hair spray over it for better results. Then rinse with plain cool water, and blot until most of the moisture is out of the carpet.

6. What about paint? If you spill paint on your carpet and it is latex, blot as much of it up as possible. If you spilled a large quantity of it on the carpet, use a dustpan or wide putty knife, joint-compound knife, or a solid spatula to scoop up as much of the paint as possible. Then take a cotton towel and wash the area using warm water and a bit of dish soap. (You can also wash down the area leaving it very wet and then use a Wet Vac to suction the paint out of the carpet). You can now apply a spotting agent to further clean the spill. If for some reason you cannot do this yourself, put a wet towel over the spill and call your carpet cleaner immediately. He can come out the next day as long as you keep the spill moist and covered.

If the paint is dry such as spots dropped on to the carpet, you can try odorless mineral spirits by moistening the spots and covering with plastic rap pieces. After an hour, they should be soft enough to take a cotton rag with more mineral spirits applied to it, and rubbing the spots out. Sometimes you have to cut the very top of the fibers with a pair of sharp scissors to remove the paint especially if it is oil-based. Always final rinse the spots with warm water and a bit of dish soap using only a few drops of the soap. Just fill a small bowl with warm water, add the few drops of dish soap, and soak up the solution with a cotton rag, small towel, or a microfiber cloth and wash the area thoroughly. Then dry the area with another clean towel, rag, etc.

7. Nail Polish: This is a tough one, but if you are careful you can get it out. Purchase some Acetone at a hardware store or Home Depot. Put a small amount on a cotton rag, old towel, and begin to blot the spill. It will begin to show on the rag. Keep adding the acetone on to the towel and keep blotting (do not rub as it may spread). Keep doing this until you have only a pinkish look left. Then try and wash the remainder out with a wet cloth and some dish soap, or use your favorite spotter. At this point you may be able to rub it, but just be careful.

8. Laundry detergent. Spills of this kind are very difficult to get out and the result will be a soiled dirty spot where it was spilled as it attracts soil. You must get as much of that spill out as possible by using the method of #3 above. I have gone back four or five times to get soap out of a carpet that just keeps on wicking back up after it is cleaned. The key it to get that soap out of the carpet using the towel and weight method and just wetting the area repeatedly until most of the detergent has wicked up into the towel. A Wet Va. might help here also.

9. When you have your carpets professionally cleaned have them apply Scotchguard protectant. This prevents stains from “taking hold” and becoming permanent. It waterproofs the carpet fibers and also prevents soils from penetrating the fibers. This makes vacuuming easier and more effective at removing particulate and other soils. Your carpet will not only be protected and stay clean longer, but you will also extend the life of the carpet saving you from having to replace your carpet too soon.

10. Here is a very effective solution for stains on upholstery cushions, dinning room chairs, and other furniture, which can be moveable. Purchase the 3% hydrogen Peroxide and a bottle of clear ammonia from the grocery store. Mix a small batch 50-50 and put into a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the difficult stain and put the piece out in direct sunlight. You will be surprised at how many stains can be removed using this method. I use it constantly in my business with great success. Of course you don’t want to use it on wool or even all cotton material. You could test a small section out in the back of the couch or chair at the bottom to see if color comes out of the fabric. Use the peroxide mixture on a section and wait for two minutes. Then rub the area with a white cotton cloth or towel. If the fabric is not colorfast, it will show color on the white cloth. If it is colorfast, nothing should show and it would be okay to put the mixture on the stain.

11. What about impossible or totally irremovable stains? Your professional carpet cleaner can remove the piece of carpet that is stained and glue in a new piece if you have a closet with the same carpet or if you have a scrap left-over piece available. He may have the tools to do an expertise job where you will hardly notice the repair unless your carpet is really worn.

12. What if it is just color loss? If color is lost due to bleaches, acids, etc., then you could have the section or spot dyed. You will have to find a carpet cleaner that does this type of work. He can usually match the carpet color so that the dye will not be noticeable.

For pet odor problems we can remove the stain (in most cases) and the smell as well. See our newsletter sample on Pet Odor, "Pew, What Is That Smell?"

All these tips and tricks do not cost a lot of money. It is far better to have a carpet cleaner attempt to fix your problem than going out and purchasing new carpet. I hope these tips will be helpful to our readers and that you will save yourself some grief and hold on to your hard-earned money.

For specific questions on carpet problems, stains, spots, purchases, etc. you can e-mail me at and I will be happy to answer your questions.

Q. I was told that if I get my carpets "steam cleaned" they will be ruined because the backing with crack. Is this true?

A. This is a myth and not true. The actual method you are referencing is hot water extraction rather than steam cleaning. Superheated water is sprayed into the carpet and immediately removed using very strong suction. A certified carpet cleaner understands the proper methods to use on the different types of carpets. Our carpet cleaning truck mounted system carries a very powerful suction which removes the majority of water used to clean your carpets. Carpet manufacturers recommend the hot water extraction method more than any other.

Q. Can't I just rent a machine at my local grocery store and do it myself?

A. We do not recommend this approach because the cleaning solution and machine are not of professional quality. You will most likely end up with carpet containing soap residue making the orginal problem worse. These machines also lack the heat and suction of a truck mounted system. Both are necessary for proper cleaning.